Defence ministry agrees to conditional release of lawyer detained on espionage charge

Updated January 22, 2020

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Supreme Court adjourns hearing. — AFP/File
Supreme Court adjourns hearing. — AFP/File

The defence ministry on Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that Advocate Inamur Rahim — a retired colonel who was picked up by a security agency from his home in Rawalpindi on Dec 17, 2019 — will be released if certain condition are met.

The assurance was given during a hearing of a petition filed by the government against a Lahore High Court ruling, issued earlier this month, in which Rahim's detention was declared illegal. A three-member bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam had ordered the lawyer be immediately released.

During today's proceedings, the attorney general told the court that Rahim was unwell and had been taken to the hospital multiple times. He said that the advocate will be released if his counsel agrees to surrender his passport and share his laptop's password with the ministry. The attorney general further said that Rahim should also agree to not venture outside the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Rahim should also agree to "cooperate in the investigation", the attorney general said.

The retired colonel's counsel reminded the court that Rahim had been under detention for more than a month but agreed to the defence ministry's conditions for release.

The court then directed Rahim's counsel to surrender his passport and cooperate in the investigation, saying, "Government's petition against Rahim's release [order by LHC] will be heard on merit."

The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.

Rahim's detention 'illegal'

On January 9, the LHC's Rawalpindi bench had declared the detention of Rahim to be illegal and ordered military authorities to release him immediately.

Following this, the federal government on January 11 approached the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling.

The defence and interior secretaries in an appeal filed through Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti had sought suspension of the LHC's release order till the present case was decided by the apex court. The Supreme Court accepted the appeal and later suspended LHC's sentence after the attorney general told the top court that Rahim was being investigated for "espionage".

Rahim — the advocate for missing persons

On December 17, 2019, Rahim's son Hasnain Inam said eight to 10 people in black uniforms with a Pakistani flag stitched on their arms forced their way into their house located on Rawalpindi's Adiala Road.

He added that he was overpowered after being pushed away by two people, and one person put his hand over his mouth. "The men then searched every room and forced [my father] into a pick-up truck at gunpoint and drove away," he said.

On January 2, the defe­nce ministry informed the LHC that Rahim was in the custody of its subordinate agency and that he was being probed for allegedly violating the Official Secret Act after the court sought a reply on a petition filed by the defence and interior ministries.

However, a representative for the defence ministry did not initially specify exactly what violations had been committed by the detained lawyer.

Rahim has previously filed numerous petitions for the recovery of missing persons and against administrative orders of the army or armed forces. Moreover, he was the counsel in petitions filed against high-profile court-martial proceedings about the GHQ attack and conviction of naval officers among others.